Tag Archives: democracy

Too Harsh on Hegemony

Before I leave the topic of Hegemony, I need to acknowledge the rant quality of my last post, which was too harsh in some ways. I went after the US with a venomous mind, without considering the sensibilities of the most important element in that country, the people. The people are the country in the end, not just the hegemonic structures which govern their lives.

The founding principles of that democratic nation are truly good and just. The problem is not in the principles, but in the practice at the highest levels, not at the level of the people. By-and-large, the American people are kind and generous people. In times of strife, they pull together for the common good, perhaps like citizens in no other nation. They fiercely defend their rights and freedoms, and are generally fair-minded, and more than ever, seem committed to egalitarianism.

The USA was born of rebellion against the dictates of an imperialist Great Britain by a populace that was tough and independent by nature. Those characteristics are exactly what was required to establish a nation where only wilderness prevailed. The United States of America has progressed in fits and starts during its existence as a nation-state. The fits have been the product of drifts away from its founding principles, and the geopolitical drama that has unfolded over those years. The starts have been the result of being drawn back to those same founding principles.

Perhaps it is more wise to judge the success of the United Stats, not be its absolute success, but by how far it has come in light of all the struggles it has had in moving toward the ideas of democracy put forth by its founding fathers. Booker T. Washington exhorted the American blacks, struggling to succeed in the period after the Civil War, with that very idea. The inherent optimism of his sentiments at that time, may be for this time too.

Hegemony still has no place under my dome of heaven, but the people who struggle against its evils, and right those evils through democratic means, do. We need to return to hegemony in its most benign form which serves society, not dominates it.

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More on Hegemony

In my last post I gave a flavour of why hegemony is excluded from under my dome of heaven. In this post I will be more specific as to why I exclude hegemony from beneath my dome of heaven. Just before I get into some specifics, I would like to remind my readers that the theme of this blog relates to the preservation of memories. We preserve memories by taking photographs or recording thoughts and events in a journal. This post, and posts to follow, are something like a retrospective journal. Everyone has ideas and philosophies that they hold to closely, and ideas and philosophies that they reject. One way to firm up your memories is to analyze your rational for selecting or rejecting particular ideas and philosophies. In the process, events and experiences that led to your decision need to be reviewed. The events and experiences recalled will relate to others, generating a web of memory. This post is the first of several that informs the reader about the specifics behind my thinking.

Hegemony is one of the “deadly sins” of society. A societal deadly sin is different from the personal deadly sins of “Christen ethics” fame, in that we have choice regarding the so-called Seven Deadly Sins, but the deadly societal sin of hegemony reflects the evolution of human behaviour. Anything that becomes engrained in human behavior and part of the fiber of society, requires us to be particularly vigulent.

My first brush with hegemonic influence came with a question. Why was it necessary to pledge allegiance to the flag each morning with an included phrase that invoked a role for God in the process ( ….one nation, under God….). This is a ritual enacted in every public school in the United States since the 50’s. What exactly did God have to do with it? Whose God were they talking about? Why were we required to invoke God in a country that is based on the separation of church and state? Subsequently, I discovered that the “God element” was not part of the pledge until 1954 when the US Congress amended the pledge on the suggestion of President Eisenhower. The anti-communist fervor in the US seemed to require some way to differentiate the democracy of the USA from the godless Soviets. This legislation was challenged in the courts on the basis that it constituted a prayer, but the court decided that the simple phrase did not constitute a prayer, so it was allowed to stand. After 60 years, the “God phrase” has been uttered countless times each day. The dominant culture of the past, continues to impose its version of reality on the majority,  which has an increasingly diverse with an increasing non-Christian component.

The phrase “God Bless America” is uttered by every president and presidential candidate as a default terminating statement in every speech.  If there is a God, why should he/she/it wish to bless America in particular. What about the rest of the countries in the world? If church and state are truly separate, then why would God even want to bless a state whose founding fathers rejected Gods involvement. The USA was supposed to be a place of equality and religious freedom. Did God bless the America that took almost a century to legislate equality of opportunity for the American black population? Did God bless US incursions and wars in Viet Nam, Iraq, and Afghanistan? Did God bless the US support for various political strong men and political movements that were inherently undemocratic? Does God bless the NRA, big oil, big pharma, the military industrial complex, insurance companies, wall street, and all the other groups that spend so much money to buy influence in Washington. If there is a God, I don’t think that lobbying for influence in the context of self-interest would be high on the list of things to bless. Lobbying reflects the interests of the dominant elements in US society that need to control the flow of things in order to retain their domination and control over the aspects of society from which they derive their wealth.

The hegemonic structures of every empire known through recorded history, served to solidify the hold each of these empires had over the lands and people they dominated.  Once the leaders of a society lose sight of the need to act in the best interests of all members of society, hegemonic practices become a tyranny, not a triumph.

Hegemony has generated more evil than good. Hegemony flies in the face of humanism and egalitarianism. Hegemony is excluded from beneath my dome of heaven because it creates stress when there should be peace. In its most benign state, hegemony is necessary, but we need to safeguard society from its inherent evils.

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